Monday, February 6, 2012

April 1940: Flash Comics #6

 Cover by Everett E. Hibbard

'The Flash!' (by Gardner Fox and Everett E. Hibbard): When this story started with some crooked gamblers trying to fix the Olympic tryouts by drugging the favourites, I was all set to hate it. But it picks up when the Flash enters himself in the races in a bid to stop the gamblers winning any money. He doesn't hold back at all, which is something of a dick move, and it's fun watching the reactions of the commentators and the crowd. It's also apparent that the Flash has no desire for a secret identity. He enters the races as Jay Garrick, his girlfriend Joan calls him Flash in front of people, and he's just careless with it in general. It's a refreshing change that adds to the strip's breezy nature.

As a final note, Jay Garrick seems to have graduated college since the last story.

'King Standish' (by Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert): When the Witch steals a safe full of emeralds, King Standish disguises himself as a safe-cracker to thwart her plans. The King gets a little bit of character development here that I find interesting; he likes leaving hints and clues to his true identity, almost as though he wants to be caught. His playful rivalry with the Witch is also quite a bit of fun.

'Hawkman' (by Gardner Fox and Sheldon Moldoff): While flying back from his last adventure in the Middle East, Hawkman and his companion Ione are captured by Arab slave traders. There are a lot of sexual undertones to the whole thing, with Ione chained up to be sold as a harem slave, and Hawkman being an object of desire for the villainous Queen of Sheba. It all ends when the British Army rides in to show those pesky Arabs who's in charge, but not before Hawkman fights a lion. I might have enjoyed this if Hawkman wasn't such a bland character. Come on dude, find a personality trait!

'Rod Rian of the Sky Police' (by Paul H. Jepsen): Rod Rian is still in the village of skeleton men (who are in actuality just regular dudes, but their drinking water has the side-effect of turning their flesh invisible). After a brief battle with some sabre-tooth tigers, Rod tracks the tigers back to a pure water source, so the skeleton men can return to their normal appearance. As if they would want to; skeletons are rad.

'Johnny Thunderbolt' (by John B. Wentworth and Stan Aschmeier): Johnny goes fox hunting, and once he unknowingly says his magic word shenanigans ensue involving a talking fox, and a pack of dogs transformed into ravening wolves. It's amusing enough.

'Cliff Cornwall, Special Agent' (by Gardner Fox and Sheldon Moldoff): Cliff is on the trail of some arms smugglers, and his method of investigation is the worst ever. The main suspect is a bald man, so Cliff just starts following bald men at random. One goes to a tailor, and on a hunch Cliff decides that the guy has some plans hidden in a secret pocket in his jacket. None of his deductions make sense, and his leaps of logic are just absurd.

'Planet of the Metal Men' (by Evelyn Gaines): In the last chapter of this prose story, Jack, Sally and little Tommy rocketed to the planet Vesta. Here they meet the natives, a race of robotic people who give off electricity that is lethal to humans. The Earth-people befriend them, and then there's a lot of talk about their lifestyles and society and such. It's continued next month, but there's no hook to interest me in the next installment.

'Don Fuel and the Mystery Planet' (by Ed Wheelan): When the mad scientist Rascalli discovers a planet from which the soil can be distilled into destructive atomic pellets, Don Fuel must go there to collect a soil sample and save the Earth. This is a parody of the sort of rockets and ray-guns sci-fi that's prevalent in the late 30s and early 40s. It has as many good jokes as crap ones, operating on the principle that if you throw one out in every panel some are bound to stick. On the whole I think it comes out slightly behind, mostly due to the presence of Don's black sidekick Bunion, who hits every negative racial stereotype there is.

'The Whip' (by John B. Wentworth and Homer Fleming): The Whip takes on a crooked judge and newspaper editor. To be honest, I can't figure out what they've done wrong. Something about hiring prisoners from the jail as servants? Obviously, this one didn't hold my attention.

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